Still frame from a body camera in use in Cleveland
This morning, Cleveland police officials briefed the city on how the body camera program
is rolling out. Training is under way as of today for officers in the Fourth District, with more sessions to follow shortly. The Second District will begin in March, following by Fifth District in April, First District in May and Third District in June.
According to Deputy Chief Leroy Morrow, cameras will be attached to the officers' uniforms. While on duty, officers will activate the cameras for: investigative stops, pursuits, crime/accident scenes, physical violence and use of force, civil disturbances and when engaging with criminal suspicious activity. Morrow said that officers will not be recording for several reasons: working in private residence that is not a crime scene or areas of expected privacy such as dressing rooms and restrooms, as well as at the request of a victim or witness and when engaging in conversations not related to police work.
At the end of each shift, officers will dock their cameras, which will automatically upload the video data to evidence.com.
Councilman Matt Zone and others questioned police leadership throughout the morning on matters such as battery life, what the "green light" and "red light" mean (red light is recording), training protocol, docking technology, and more. It wasn't immediately clear if officers would be allowed to use the cameras to film episodes for their vlog.
Information collected by the body cameras will fall under state public record policy. Homicides and sexual assaults will be retained permanently, with lower-tier crime scenes (misdemeanors, etc.) held for five years, one year or 180 days. Notably, use of force incidents will be maintained for only five years.
"If [the data] needs to be kept for longer, it can be flagged and we can keep it for a longer time," Morrow said. Chief Calvin Williams said the administrative process — the tagging, the flagging, the uploading, etc. - should not infringe too much on their time spent working in their respective neighborhoods.
As far as repercussions for not wearing the cameras, "misuse of this and any other equipment is subject to the disciplinary process for the division," Williams said, adding that officers who routinely skip out on camera duty will be retrained until they get onboard.
With training unfolding over the next four-plus months, this story will surely come with ongoing updates.
"We have to see this program out for an extended amount of time" to see how it will impact the city of Cleveland, Williams said.